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Edelman writes: "I hope these shocking Connecticut child sacrifices in this holy season will force enough of us at last to stand up, speak out, and organize with urgency and persistence until the president, members of Congress, governors and state legislators put child safety ahead of political expediency."

Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a shooting there Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. (photo: Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee)
Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a shooting there Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. (photo: Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee)

Dear God! When Will It Stop?

By Marian Wright Edelman, Reader Supported News

15 December 12


he horrendous news from Newtown, Connecticut has pierced our hearts. Allegedly, a black-clad man in his 20s armed with two semi-automatic handguns entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School and made an elementary school for kindergartners through fourth graders the scene of the worst mass shooting in a public school in American history. Reportedly, 20 children were shot and killed, and seven adults were shot and killed. We don't yet know how many were wounded. We do know dozens of parents are experiencing the worst nightmare any parent could imagine. We do know more than 500 young children in the school are traumatized.

Once again we are faced with unspeakable horror from gun violence and once again we are reminded that there is no safe harbor for our children. How young do the victims have to be and how many children need to die before we stop the proliferation of guns in our nation and the killing of innocents? The most recent statistics reveal 2,694 children and teens were killed by gunfire in 2010; 1,773 of them were victims of homicide and 67 of these were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were still alive they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each. Since 1979 when gun death data were first collected by age, a shocking 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence. That is more child and youth deaths in America than American battle deaths in World War I (53,402) or in Vietnam (47,434) or in the Korean War (33,739) or in the Iraq War (3,517). Where is our anti-war movement to protect children from pervasive gun violence here at home?

This slaughter of innocents happens because we protect guns before children and other human beings. Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents and teachers and children and the entire Newtown community that has been ripped apart by each bullet shot this morning. We know from past school shootings and the relentless killing of children every day that Newtown families and the community will never be the same. The Newtown families who lost children today will never be the same. The families of the teachers who were killed will never be the same. Every child at the Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning will never be the same.

Each and all of us must do more to stop this intolerable and wanton epidemic of gun violence and demand that our political leaders do more. We can't just talk about it after every mass shooting and then do nothing until the next mass shooting when we profess shock and talk about it again. The latest terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is no fluke. It is a result of the senseless, immoral neglect of all of us as a nation to protect children instead of guns and to speak out against the pervasive culture of violence and proliferation of guns in our nation. It is up to us to stop these preventable tragedies.

We have so much work to do to build safe communities for our children and need leaders at all levels of government who will stand up against the NRA and for every child's right to live and learn free of gun violence. But that will not happen until mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and neighbors and faith leaders and everybody who believes that children have a right to grow up safely stand up together and make a mighty ruckus as long as necessary to break the gun lobby's veto on common sense gun policy. Our laws and not the NRA must control who can obtain firearms.

It is way past time to demand enactment of federal gun safety measures, including:

  • Ending the gun show loophole that allows private dealers to sell guns without a license and avoid required background checks;

  • Reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004;

  • And requiring consumer safety standards for all guns.

Why in the world do we regulate teddy bears and toy guns and not real guns that have snuffed out tens of thousands of child lives? Why are leaders capitulating to the powerful gun lobby over the rights of children and all people to life and safety?

I hope these shocking Connecticut child sacrifices in this holy season will force enough of us at last to stand up, speak out, and organize with urgency and persistence until the president, members of Congress, governors and state legislators put child safety ahead of political expediency. And we must aspire and act together to become the world leader in protecting children against gun violence rather than leading the world in child victims of guns. Every child's life is sacred and it is long past time that we protect all our children.

Albert Camus, Nobel Laureate, speaking at a Dominican monastery in 1948 said: "Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children." He described our responsibility as human beings "if not to reduce evil, at least not to add to it" and "to refuse to consent to conditions which torture innocents." It is time for a critical mass of Americans to refuse to consent to the killing of children by gun violence.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund and its Action Council.

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+32 # universlman 2012-12-15 16:17
I do not appreciate people claiming that guns don't kill people. It should be clear to everyone that they do.

Our fascination with guns and our tolerance with the overabundance of lethal weapons across the land is a major factor in the large number of senseless killings. Anyone who claims that less restrictions on gun owners will improve the picture is totally insane and heartless.
-2 # MidwestTom 2012-12-16 21:24
"the large number of senseless killings"

I certainly do not condone any killings, but I do try to find facts or experts on a subject before moving. Those who study mass shootings say they are not becoming more common.

“There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Boston’s Northeastern University, who has been studying the subject since the 1980s, spurred by a rash of mass shootings in post offices
0 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-25 13:27
The mass shootings I remember began with the U. Texas Belltower in Austin: 1964?
0 # futhark 2012-12-25 17:43
I'm too young to personally remember this, but the worst single violent attack on school children in American history was the Bath School disaster of 1927 May 18, in which Andrew Kehoe, a recently defeated school board member in Bath Township, Michigan, murdered his wife, burned down his farm buildings, and set off explosive charges of dynamite and pyrotol, positioned weeks or months previously in the main school building, killing 38 children, 6 adults, and injuring at least 58 more people.

Lethal violence in American schools has a long history.
+29 # Kayjay 2012-12-15 17:06
Clearly, we need congressional members who will turn away from the financial contributions offered by the NRA. I desperately hope that our electorate will view any connection to the NRA, as political poison, and vote the offending rats out of office. Losing their seat seems to be the only universal fear our "so-called;" reps possess. The issue what the "right to bear arms," will always stir debate. But the general public has no right nor need for possessing automatic weapons. It would be great to see the possession of an assault weapon, listed as a felony.
+5 # giraffee2012 2012-12-15 23:35
Our Congress can't even tie their own shoes anymore so how will they come up with a reasonable change in (a) how we control purchase / use of guns - (b) what type of gun fits with the definition of the 2nd amendment?

If it cuts into their $$ for elections = they'll do zip.

There are a few on Capital Hill who will do the right thing but they don't have a loud enough voice.

Start with the Supremes - take the crook Scalia and his side kick out. Then start voting for anyone who doesn't take big $$ -- oh I forgot -- there aren't any
+1 # giraffee2012 2012-12-15 23:38
Since we cannot get Congress to change the gun laws - we can insist that anyone who is prescribed a mind altering drug be kept from owning a gun. How? Make them wear a bracelet or some identifying thing. And, of course, stop the sale of guns if no background check isn't made (gun shows) -- oh yeah they are run by the gun companies and sponsored by the NRA - so make Congress TELL us why they won't stop gun sales without background checks (on a constitutional basis)
+5 # lamancha 2012-12-16 02:37
The NRA - that toxic, sickening lobby, is a principle cause of the mass devastation that has gripped this nation. They cite the 2nd Amendment as their "mantra" but just read it - over & over - the very first, primary words state "a well regulated militia" - and written at a time when citizens formed the military in time of need, and thus expected to bear arms. The 2nd is completely anachronistic - out of date & neess to be revised; actually depleted. This omni-powerful lobby has the entire country at its mercy including the Pres. and the Congress. They need to be emasculated and censured - put out of business -or relegated to a mere hunters lobby they once were. Otherwise, the heart-wrenching carnage and devastation will go on and on.
+1 # DakotaKid 2012-12-16 08:48
So well put. When the politicians AGAIN do nothing to stop the killing the blood will be on their hands, but also on ours if we AGAIN do nothing. This society is the only one on earth where so many people value the right to own guns more than human life itself and, most tragic of all, the lives of children. If THEY won't do anything about it, WE must. If it takes a mass movement to protect our children from the terrorists among us, let's give them one. And another thing: let's explode the "Homeland Security" myth for once and for all. Face it folks: we've been fighting the wrong war against the wrong terrorists - the shooters in Connecticut, Colorado, and Virgina weren't Muslims.
+2 # America 2012-12-16 08:59
No doubt the majority of Americans agree that gun controls must be instituted.
In this democrasy, how can the few rule the majority.
Well let's do it the democratic way and that should start with an emergency national referendum which will speak loudly.
Then the laws must formulated and enacted quickly. Evry time there is mass murder they put on a glum face and say well this is not the time to talk about gun control we should all go into mourning then we have another mass murder.
Let the NRA and the GOP face the music if they continue stand in the way of this kind of reform. The electorate will soon make them pay the price. But we must go beyond talk and initiate petitions and protests. So let's go beyond our own rhetoric.
+3 # mdhome 2012-12-16 09:06
At the time of the 2nd amendment guns were muzzle-loaders and could take time to reload, their fire power was about 1/100 of what is available today. The idea of being able to serve in the militia back then was much different than today with the army using weapons nobody can afford, so nobody can quickly adapt to serving in the nations army. The idea of having such firepower at ones command is surely not what was envisioned at that time. Many years ago I was a member of the NRA, I stopped when I realized they were advocating the ownership of weapons that went a million times what anyone needed for hunting or protection. The NRA has a responsibility to help in crafting new laws that can stop the Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech type of horror, if they do not they will get laws that are going to put them into the dustbin of history, and good riddance to them.
0 # futhark 2012-12-16 11:46
Every school needs
1) To recognize the teacher heroes who stayed with their students during this trauma and tried to protect them.
2) A plan for dealing with a gunman-on-campu s emergency with procedures adapted to the layout of each classroom.
3) Annual staff training and emergency drills conducted no later than the end of September.
4) Push and twist keyless inside the classroom door locks.

I'm a 32 year veteran classroom teacher and current substitute who knows we can do a much better job to protect children from psychopathic killers.
-1 # Adoregon 2012-12-16 15:52
Dear Marian,
1) God has nothing to do with killings in Newtown or anywhere else. If there were an omnipotent "god" with special interest in humans, do you think this behavior would be tolerated? How would your "god" treat humans who violated the commandment, "thou shall not kill?"
2) As to your question, "when will it stop?" Not in the foreseeable future.

I notice no one seems to have any realistic solutions to prevent what happened in Newtown from happening again.

I notice mass killings in the U.S. seem to be perpetrated by males.

Consider that we live in a culture long defined by violence. We kill to get what we want.
Think how we got the U.S.
Think Iraq and oil.

Don't you think the parents of children killed by drone strikes suffer as much as the parents of children killed in Newtown? Is one more acceptable than the other?

We live in a country awash in weapons.
Sick men who want to kill others before ending their own twisted lives will get guns, somehow. That is a fact.

My solution... Rather than leave teachers defenseless, arm teachers and train them to use weapons effectively. If there were armed adults at the school able to take out Adam Lanza with a well aimed head shot, there would be fewer deaths and less suffering today.

The killer of the killer would be a hero.
And that's a fact.
0 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-25 13:33
"The killer of the killer would be a hero."

Killers aren't heroes: they're killers.
+1 # roger paul 2012-12-16 15:59
"Dear God"....give me a break, since when has our concept of god ever cared about violence in the world. Every 10 seconds a child is abused in the US. Five die every day from abuse. Each year 15 million children die of hunger in the world. God doesn't appear to care any more than the NRA,and the NRA has more political clout.

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